Tribe harvests parts of fin whale at Little Dume

Native American Pechanga Tribe members visited Malibu on Friday to pay their respects and harvest remains of a fin whale that washed up on Little Dume beach late Sunday night

The massive 40-foot fin whale carcass remained on the beach through Friday evening with no eminent plans to remove it as local and state officials figure out who is responsible for the secluded property on which the whale washed up. 

Richard Scearce, a member of the Pechanga Cultural Resources, led a group of five tribe members in performing a ceremonial tobacco offering on the remains.

“We thanked the animal for its life,” Scearce said. 

The tribe then began cutting parts of the whale’s vertebrae, blubber, ribs, sinew and mouth parts for various uses. Under a federally approved permit, Scearce was able to harvest parts of the remains.

Scearce described various uses: the vertebrae to build furniture such as chairs, the baleen, or mouth parts, can be made into hairbrushes, blubber makes dozens of items including oil, the ribs are used to build houses on islands such as Catalina and the sinew makes for strong rope. 

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The group was disappointed to find that the whale’s intestines had washed out to sea before they arrived. That organ can be inflated to create a floating-type craft to be used during fishing excursions, Scearce said.

The whale also attracted the attention of Dylan Kirsh, a student a Moorpark College who came out to harvest bone vertebrae for a research project.

Kirsh said he planned on conducting radioactive dating to study the whale’s age. 

 

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The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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